Senior Corps Program

This past Monday, I attended a “Briefing at the White House for Senior Corps Program Leaders and Volunteers” through an invitation of a colleague who works for Legacy International.  She had been invited, but was going out of town and thought of me as someone who might get a lot out of it for my work with the aging population.  She was right.

Although neither President Obama nor the First Lady attended, there was a lot of energy and enthusiasm by those who did.

Senior Corps was a merger that occurred under President Clinton of three entities: Foster Grandparents; RSVP; and Senior Companions.  This office serves under the Corporation for National Community Service, which serves under the Housing and Human Services and all, tongue in cheek, serve under Government Bureaucracy.

Actually, a lot of good work seems to be happening at the local level and the energy and level of enthusiasm in the room for the benefits of the program were apparent.    Participants, who came from all over the United States, shared heart warming stories of how children’s lives, aging people, and the lives of the volunteers were changed by this program.  The program offers three areas of service:

Foster Grandparents

the Foster Grandparents program enables seniors to interact with and support young children.   Open to seniors 55 and over, the program’s goal is to provide “grandparents” who will give emotional support to victims of abuse, to tutor children in need, mentor, and to care for children with disabilities. The participants receive pre-service and monthly training sessions, transportation reimbursement, an annual physical and accident and liability insurance while working with the child/children. Tax-free stipends are offered to foster grandparents who live under the poverty line to help offset any incurred costs.


The second program, RSVP, provides a way in which senior citizens can give back to their community. Flexible in nature, RSVP allows participants to choose how and when they work. Services include tutoring children, building homes, helping immunize children, relief services, and aid to community organizations. Volunteers are given a pre-service orientation, on-the-job training from the placement agency or organization, and supplemental insurance while on duty.  Seniors also reach out to other seniors via telephone to ensure their well-being and to provide social time.

Senior Companions

The Senior Companions program is aimed at helping citizens who need extra assistance to live independently, such as adults with disabilities or those with terminal illnesses and their caregivers. Participants provide both emotional and physical support by assisting with simple house chores, providing transportation, offering companionship, and simply adding richness to their clients’ lives.  Because relationships do develop, one requirement is that a person must be able to provide anywhere from 15 to 40 hours service per week.  These volunteers also receive pre-service and monthly training, transportation reimbursement, an annual physical, meals and accident and liability insurance while on duty. As with the foster grandparent program, those volunteers who exist under the poverty line receive a modest tax-free stipend for their time.

I made a lot of good contacts and saw many ways to implement some of these programs on a local level and potentially, through the work that Legacy International does, on an international level.

© Yvonne Behrens 2012


A MELANGE OF MISCELLANY Ten Timeless Observations from a Timeless Woman

In the past year, I’ve written a number of articles for Mimi Magazine, which has morphed beautifully into Timeless Woman. Writing those articles has made me aware of the vast quantities of knowledge that we have, now that we’re celebrating the better half of our lives.

These are a few of my observations, thoughts, ponderings and rants.

1. We can choose now to unlock our doors. I’ve learned that opening my own doors, becoming receptive to the events, happenings, challenges and even the threats ‘out there’, has given me a vast spectrum of experiences to embrace or to reject, as I chose. But no matter what my choice, I’m now able to allow myself the experiences of these choices.

2. We have the time now to be aware, observe, even embrace life’s serendipities.

I now seem to be able to make the time to allow serendipity into my day, should it knock. And to make the time to be in the moment with that serendipitous event for as long as it wants me there. Now, I see serendipity as the beginning of infinite possibilities.

3. We’re closer to finding that elusive ‘balance’ in our lives than ever before. Change your life to reflect scheduling as unnecessary, to prioritize yourself and your family as number 1 in importance, to find time to sit quietly alone in a dark room, to live in the moment rather than worrying about the next crisis.

4. We need to stop judging ourselves for our past.  I no longer judge myself or accept others judgments of me. I celebrate at 65 with a hindsight that allows me to accept myself as the mother I was at 40.

5. We cannot tolerate and we must stop ageism. If we realize now that jokes about people from other heritages are racist and discriminatory; if we realize now that jokes about other religions are intolerant and discriminatory, if we realize now that jokes about the opposite gender are sexist and discriminatory, then why don’t we realize that jokes about older women are ageist and discriminatory?

6. We seem to be finally understanding that our beauty comes from inside us. I like to think that whatever colour I choose for my hair will look great, because I now have the ability to see what really counts in the way I look. Colour does not make a bad hair day. Frame of mind does.

7. We can now accept, live with and be proud of our bodies. We are comprised of so very much more than our bodies, and I believe it’s essential that we embrace that thought as we move ahead. My beauty neither starts nor stops with the shape or condition of my body. My beauty is in my soul and in my mind and in my heart. And I will still believe that I’m beautiful on my 90th birthday.

8. We can choose to nourish our sensual, sexual sides. I’m not so naïve to think that both male and female sexual dysfunction isn’t a very real thing with some very real repercussions. When the day comes for me to consider this personally, then I’ll probably be less outraged about the concept of chemically engineering my libido than I am right now. Frankly, I’ll probably be beating down the door to my own doctor’s office when this happens and dragging my partner behind me too.

9. Just because we’re older, it doesn’t mean we’re ‘seniors’. We all know people who are old at 30 just as we all know people who are young at 90. It’s a state of mind, isn’t it? We need to stop our perceptions in their tracks. We need to stop painting with a broad brush. We need to see each person as the individual she really is.

10. We have no other support equal to the support of our sisters. We’re there for each other. That’s what women do. I think this is a uniquely woman thing. And I think I am so lucky to be a woman, to experience this support. In our lives, other people come and go, life events occur and evolve; even the men in our lives can change. But these women are constant. Never changing. Always there for us.


© Marcia Barhydt 2008












Hidden Costs of Medicine

Hidden Costs

The whole question of insurance, drug costs, and pharmaceuticals is an area very dear to my heart.  This section is dedicated to the politics and relationships of these topics.  Another area of focus will be on Medicare and how pharmaceuticals, insurance, and hospitals interact with this government entitlement for those 65+.  We will also look at what is being discussed by our Congress and whether they are working to dismantle a system that has proven quite effective for the past 70+ years. Along with that, we will do a comparative study on the insurance coverage Congress gives itself and what is available to the average citizen.

As starters for this section, I will share a letter I came across while surfing the web. An anonymous author wrote a letter entitled Hidden Medication Costs for The Health Care Blog.  He/she learned the true costs of drugs after he/she retired and enrolled in Medicare.
This is what the writer wrote:

Just prior to retirement, my eyes suddenly began [to] tear and swell so much that it impacted my vision. The eye doctor diagnosed an allergic reaction and prescribed prednisone drops to reduce the swelling and antihistamine drops to combat the reaction. …….Per my employer’s plan I paid a relatively small co-pay for each prescription.
Three weeks later, on a follow-up visit, the doctor recommended that I continue the antihistamine drops for the duration of the allergy season. …. Now I was on Medicare so I checked the cost of the drops on the website of my Part D provider. It was $279. Could this be?? Oh indeed it could — and I had a high deductible and would have to pay all of it!! Of course, if I continued to need the drops, the plan would eventually assume more of the expense.”

As many do in these circumstances, the writer began to question whether there was not a cheaper alternative that would do the same trick.  As it turned out, yes, indeed there was.  The author continues:

“…. there were, in fact, two reasonable options: one a prescription which was ½ the price of the current prescription; the other a medication that had previously been script-only, but was now available OTC – the cost for this was $14.79. He [the doctor] suggested that I experiment with the alternatives to see if they were as effective as the current drops. Fortunately, the $14.79 version was just fine. Of course, it might not have been, but it was.

The last point that this author makes is probably the most important point in the article:

….had I not asked, it would not have been offered.  And had I not had a plan that exposed the cost of the expensive prescription, I would not have asked.

Believe it or not, there are many stories like this one: a patient learns of the forbidding costs of a drug or a procedure or a, you name it, and seeks to find a less expensive alternative, usually finding it.  One might go further and wonder why the doctor did not offer the cheapest option at the outset?  Tune in over the months as we present people’s stories and reflect on why such stories exist.